Platelet rich plasma, or often termed as PRP , is concentrated blood plasma that contains approximately five times the number of platelets found in normal circulating blood In addition, it contains platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF), vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), transforming growth factor (TGF) and other bioactive proteins that aid in wound healing and possibly hair growth.
The function of platelets is to promote healing and aid in the clotting of blood at the site of a wound. Platelets contain growth factors that promote regeneration of the cells in the body. The benefits of platelets and the regeneration of tissue is widely known and accepted in medical literature, but its usage in recent medical conditions is currently being studied.
The idea behind PRP therapy is that by increasing the platelet count in a wounded area, the body’s healing capacity in that area would be accelerated. It is also proposed that PRP can actually stimulate the stem cells (dermal papilla) of the newly transplanted hair follicles
The injection of platelet rich plasma (PRP) is a technique using the body’s own blood to heal itself. Doctors incorporate its use for the growth of thinning hair, transplanted hair, and wound healing. Many patients have benefited from this form of treatment.
If the hair follicles or hair roots are healthy, the growth of the hair is healthy. Hair follicles survive on the nutrition they get from blood supply. If we introduce platelets by administering platelet rich plasma (PRP) in the area of damaged hair follicles, it amplifies the body’s naturally occurring wound healing mechanism. Some doctors around the world believe PRP can be used to stimulate the growth of hair follicles preventing hair loss.
First, approximately 20-30ml of blood is collected from your vein. It’s very similar to having a routine blood test performed at your doctor’s clinic. The blood is collected in a special PRP tubes. The tube is then placed in centrifuge machine to spin for 15 minutes. After centrifuge blood components are separated. The concentrated platelets are separate from your normal whole blood. The PRP that contains abundant growth factors and stem cells is now activated with activator and this activated PRP is injected into the scalp
There are many benefits of using PRP treatment to promote healing for hair growth. Highly concentrated growth factors in the form of platelets have been shown to generate new hair growth, thicken thinned out hair, and make hair transplants grow thicker and healthier.
However, not everyone is an ideal candidate to undergo this procedure. Patients who have an active infection in the scalp, history of a viral infection like shingles, diabetes, any clotting disorder, or patients who are on blood-thinning medications like aspirin and immunosuppressive drugs like cyclosporine are not candidates for this procedure.
Also, if hair follicles are completely lost, this procedure is less likely to help patients. Patients may need to opt for hair transplant surgery.
The whole procedure takes around one hour. Since an inflammatory process is initiated at the wound site, there may be mild pain or discomfort felt by the patient at the site where PRP is injected. Patient are not advised not to take any anti-inflammatory medication since it may interfere in the natural healing process of PRP. Patients generally have to receive this treatment multiple times before they can see any results. However, some patients may only have to receive this therapy once a year.
The injected area may have mild swelling, it may even be tender to touch. Swelling may go away in few hours after the procedure while tenderness may go away in a couple of days. There is a possibility of the area getting infected, but this is rare.
PRP does not pose any danger of allergy, hypersensitivity, or foreign-body reaction and it is a safe choice for many patients.
Prognosis is generally good, but it varies from person to person. Most of the clinics practicing this therapy have reported almost 80% success rate.